The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was founded in 1865 in Paris as the International Telegraph Union. The 1932 Madrid Plenipotentiary Conference decided the current name, which came into force on 1 January 1934. The ITU is an inter-governmental organization that brings together governments and industry to coordinate the establishment and operation of global telecommunication networks and services.
Extend international cooperation among Member States for the improvement and rational use of telecommunications of all kinds.
Promote and enhance participation of entities and organisations in the activities of the Union and foster cooperation and partnership between them and Member States.
Promote and offer technical assistance to developing countries in telecommunications.
Promote the development of technical facilities and their most efficient operation.
Promote the extension of the benefits of information and communication technologies to all the world's inhabitants.
Promote the use of telecommunication services with the aim of facilitating peaceful relations.
Harmonise the actions of Member States and promote cooperation and partnership between Member States and sector members.
Promote internationally a broader approach to telecommunications issues by cooperating with other inter-governmental organisations and those non-governmental organisations concerned with telecommunications.
The Union pursues its objectives by means of :
Promoting international cooperation in the delivery of technical assistance to developing countries.
Policy papers and reports designed to provide a focus on topics of current interest the regulators, policy-makers and the broader ITU membership.
Global coordination of radio frequency spectrum usage and orbital satellite positions, and the adoption of international regulations and treaties governing all uses of the frequency spectrum within which countries frame their national legislation.
Adopting technical standards that foster global inter-connectivity and inter-operability with as low rates as possible, consistent with efficient service.
Policy advice and technical assistance to developing countries.
Measures for ensuring the safety of life, particularly in the aftermath of natural disasters
Promoting preferential and favourable lines of credit for the development of social projects aimed at extending telecommunication services to the most isolated areas.
The Union's current areas of focus are :
Developing infrastructure for information and communication technologies (ICTs) to connect under-served and remote communities.
Building cybersecurity and confidence in online transactions with a focus on protecting children online.
Promoting ICTs as an aid to combat climate change
Strengthening emergency telecommunications
Facilitating implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society.
The Union comprises:
World conferences on international telecommunications
The Constitution provides that a Plenipotentiary Conference, the supreme organ of the Union, be convened every four years. Plenipotentiary Conferences are composed of delegations from the Union's Member States. They adopt the underlying policies of the organisation, determine its direction and activities, and make decisions relating to its structure through a treaty called the Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union.
The Council acts on behalf of the Plenipotentiary Conference. It comprises up to 25 percent of Member States, elected by the Plenipotentiary Conference with due regard to the equitable distribution of Council seats among the five world regions (Americas, nine seats; Western Europe, eight seats; Eastern Europe and Northern Asia, five seats; Africa, 13 seats; Asia and Australasia, 13 seats). The current Council comprises 48 Member States and meets annually.
The role of the Council is to consider, in the interval between Plenipotentiary Conferences, broad telecommunication policy issues and ensure that the Union's activities, policies and strategies respond fully to the rapidly changing telecommunication environment. The Council is also responsible for ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the Union, coordinating work programmes, approving budgets and controlling finances.
The ITU has three main sectors, encompassing its main conferences:
The Radiocommunication Sector comprises the world and regional radio communication conferences, radio communication assemblies, study groups, the Radio Regulations Board, the Radiocommunication Advisory Group and the Radiocommunication Bureau.
The Telecommunication Standardization Sector comprises the world telecommunication standardisation assemblies, study groups, the Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group and the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.
The Telecommunication Development Sector comprises the world and regional telecommunication development conferences, study groups, the Telecommunication Development Advisory Group and the Telecommunication Development Bureau.
The ITU's General Secretariat is headed by the organisation's Secretary-General, assisted by a deputy secretary-general and three elected directors.
ITU membership consists of 192 Member States and around 700 sector members. Sector members are public and private companies and organisations with an interest in telecommunications that are entitled to participate, with specific rights and obligations, in the work of one or more ITU sectors.
One hundred associates also take part in some ITU work under special arrangements with the sectors. It is up to each sector to admit associates as partners in their activities. Current ITU Council members were elected at the Plenipotentiary Conference in October 2010. The next elections will be held in 2014.
The Americas Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Bahamas Barbados Belize Bolivia Brazil Canada Chile Colombia Costa Rica Cuba Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador Grenada Guatemala Guyana Haiti Honduras Jamaica Mexico Nicaragua Panama Paraguay Peru Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Suriname Trinidad and Tobago USA Uruguay Venezuela
Western Europe Andorra Austria Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatia Cyprus Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Holy See Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Monaco Netherlands Norway Portugal San Marino Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey UK
Eastern Europe and Northern Asia Albania Armenia Azerbaijan Belarus Bulgaria Czech Republic Georgia Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Montenegro Poland Republic of Moldova Romania Russian Federation Serbia Slovakia Tajikistan The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Turkmenistan Ukraine Uzbekistan
Africa Algeria Angola Benin Bostwana Burkin Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde Central African Republic Chad Comoros Congo Cote d'Ivoire DR Congo Djibouti Egypt Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libyan AJ Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Rwanda Sao Tome and Principe Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa Sudan Swaziland Togo Tunisia Uganda UR of Tanzania Zambia Zimbabwe
Asia and Australasia Afghanistan Australia Bahrain Bangladesh Bhutan Brunei Darussalam Cambodia China DPRK Fiji India Indonesia Iran Israel Japan Jordan Kiribati Lao PDR Lebanon Malaysia Maldives Marshall Islands Micronesia Mongolia Myanmar Nauru Nepal New Zealand Oman Pakistan Papua New Guinea Philippines Qatar ROK Samoa Saudi Arabia Singapore Solomon Islands Sri Lanka Syria Thailand Timor-Leste Tonga Tuvalu UAE Vanuatu Viet Nam Yemen
The ITU Telecom World was held from 24 to 27 October 2011 in Geneva; ITU World Radiocommunication Conference from 23 January to 17 February 2012 in Geneva; and World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) from 6 to 15 November 2012 in Geneva. The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day was held on17 May 2012.